The EU leaders will discuss Ukraine’s membership application at the next EU-Ukraine summit, early in 2023, Matti Maasikas, the head of the European Union Delegation to Ukraine, said in an interview with the Ukrinform news agency on Jan. 2.
“I can only repeat that through the historic June decision of the European Council, Ukraine was given the prospect of becoming a member of the EU – on the understanding that reforms are continued,” he said.
“We’re not yet at the point where we decide on the opening of negotiations, but Ukraine’s progress in the steps taken so far is steady and commendable.”
Maasikas said the EU’s enlargement policy remains, as a geostrategic investment in Europe’s security, prosperity and stability.
“We believe that Ukraine wants to join the European Union because it sees it as the most important and reliable way to ensure their own peace, stability and long-term prosperity,” he said.
“And, if a nation has decided to become European in all the senses of the word – who on Earth has the right to deny them that?”
The ambassador noted that the pace of accession depends first and foremost on the progress on the fundamentals, starting with the rule of law.
“But it’s important to note that Ukraine has a big head start, through its implementation of the Association Agreement, which includes a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area,” the official said.
Earlier, the European Council said the Ukraine-EU summit would take place on Feb. 3, 2023. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been invited to the meeting.
EU leaders supported granting EU candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova at an EU summit in Brussels on June 23, 2022. Zelenskyy said this is a historic moment in the EU-Ukraine relations.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said during the government meeting on Dec. 30 that Ukraine’s strategic task is to meet the criteria for joining the European Union by late 2024.